Deeper Levels

Susan Haack takes issue with Paul Davies in Defending Science – Within Reason.

In The Mind of God, Paul Davies, also a physicist, but a believer (and winner of the million-dollar Templeton prize ‘for progress in religion’) concludes that ‘belief in God is largely a matter of taste, to be judged by its explanatory value rather than logical compulsion. Personally I feel more comfortable with a deeper level of explanation than the laws of physics. Whether the use of “God” for that deeper level is appropriate is, of course, a matter of debate.’ This, from the idea that explanatoriness is just a matter of taste, through the play on ‘deeper,’ to the insouciance about the meaning of ‘God,’ sounds to me like – well, a million-dollar muddle.

Same here. That ‘deeper’ is rich. Why are made-up ‘explanations’ considered deeper, more profound, more admirable than the other kind? And then, explanation is strange too – common, but strange. What explanation? What explanation? Why do people find it explanatory to say ‘God’ to questions like ‘why is there something rather than nothing?’ or ‘why is there life?’ or ‘why is there Mind?’? Why is the word ‘God’ considered an explanation? Why doesn’t it sound like what it is – either a silly refusal to say ‘I don’t know’ or a dressed-up translation of ‘I don’t know’ or both. ‘God’ is not explanatory. If you say ‘who ate the last brownie?’ and the answer is ‘God’ do you feel as if your understanding has been increased?

Gotta go. The sun is about to set spectacularly over Puget Sound and I have to rush out to get the whole panorama (I can see it from here, but I like the sweeping view from The Wall). Who made the sun to set? God. Or not.

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